Spring: Time to Check Your Automobile's Health

(NUI) - Winter-weary motorists eager to enjoy a spring drive should be aware that while winter storms may finally be gone, the effects of the season's snow, ice and salt haven't disappeared from state roadways.

Automotive suspension systems and tires in particular take a beating from potholes, pavement separations and expansions, and loose concrete resulting from winter's elements.

"To get the most from your car tires and suspension without sacrificing your family's safety, here are some tell-tale signs of wear that you can check for yourself," says Dennis Johndrow, Sears Auto Services director:

* Tires have uneven wear and gashes. Uneven or cupped wear often indicates worn out shocks, struts, steering or suspension parts.

A car's steering can be put out of alignment in a number of ways, from a collision with a sidewalk curb when parking to a jolt from a highway pothole. Check the inside and outside tire walls for cuts, bubbles or blemishes and the tread for cuts or lodged obstacles that can puncture your tires.

Proper inflation goes a long way in protecting tires from road hazards, assures proper tire wear and improves gasoline mileage. Look at the side of the driver's door for a sticker that indicates the proper inflation level for your tires. If you are experiencing a loss of air pressure, this may indicate a damaged tire, broken mounting bead or bent rim, all which can lead to more serious problems.

* Car bounces, sways or sags when stopping or cornering. Worn out suspension parts cause abnormal drift, sway and bounce, particularly when cornering. If your car sags, sways or "dives" when braking, or has a harsh, bumpy ride - especially after hitting a bump or pothole - your shocks, struts and suspension parts may be worn.

* Car pulls to one side when driving. A car that steers or pulls to one side may be out of alignment, may be driving on tires that are unevenly or heavily worn, or may indicate rack-and-pinion or power-steering problems.

What Can You Do?

If your car tires or suspension do show signs of excessive wear, take it to a reputable service center that offers the following:

* Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Certified Technicians. ASE certified technicians, such as those found at your local Sears Auto Center and NTB National Tire & Battery stores, are trained and tested by independent, qualified experts in battery and related services, including brakes, shocks, struts, alignments and front-end repairs.

* Guarantees on parts and labor. All parts and labor should be guaranteed in writing by the auto center. Sears Auto Centers and NTB National Tire & Battery stores guarantee their work and the parts installed at all of the more than 1,100 service centers throughout the United States.

For more information about Sears Auto Centers, visit the Web site at www.sears.com.

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